Terrain shapes and bedrock
The peculiar shape of Cyprus, with the northeastern Carpathian peninsula, is directly linked to the alpine mountain range that extends across the island and continues on the Asian mainland. The narrow Kyrenia Mountains follow the northern coastline of the island at a distance of 160 km and reach a maximum of 1,023 m above sea level. The mountain range consists mainly of limestone from Mesozoic times.
To the south follows the low and flat Mesaoria plain, which extends between the Gulf of Morfou in the west and the Gulf of Famagusta in the east with a length of 129 km and a width of 48 km. South of the plain, the Troodos massif with the Olympus Mountains spreads as a marked ridge. The highest peak is Olympus, also called Troodos, 1,952 meters above sea level. The massif consists mainly of ultramafic rocks, from the oceanic crust, elevated by excess.
On the southeastern part of the island there is a plateau that descends to the fertile coastal plain. The sloping surfaces have been subjected to strong soil erosion, after reckless logging and pickling.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Cyprus has a pronounced Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summer and cool and rainy winter. The proximity to the Asian mainland allows the high summer temperatures to reach above 40 ° C, usually in the interior and low-lying parts of the island. These months are felt to be uncomfortably hot, but in the mountainous regions the temperatures are more moderate. At over 1,000 m altitude, the Troodos Mountains get plenty of snow during the winter, which can last up to five months at the top of Olympus.
The sunshine hours are plentiful in both winter and summer. The high summer temperature combined with the absence of rain from late May to mid-September causes an annual dry season with swelled vegetation as a result.
The average temperature during summer is about 28 ° C and during winter about 11 ° C. The coastal regions are milder than inland during the winter, and Olympus then has a temperature below freezing. The annual average temperature varies between about 20 ° C along the coasts and in eastern Cyprus, reaching a minimum of about 10 ° C at Olympus.
The rainfall is on average 500 mm per year, except for the Troodos mountains which get over 1,000 mm, and falls mainly during November to March. The rivers are dependent on the winter rains and dry out completely in the summer. Nicosia receives only 340 mm of rain per year.
Plant-and animal life
Cyprus is slightly smaller than Östergötland. The country is dominated by the Troodos Mountains in the southwest with remnants of more original forests interspersed with extensive tree plantations. The Mesaoria plain in the central parts of the country is intensively cultivated and lacks greater natural values. The Kyerni mountains in the north once again house some valuable natural areas. Despite heavy exploitation of the country’s coasts, there are some more unspoilt areas, especially along rockier parts but also in rare cases sandy beaches where sea turtles find a sanctuary.
In the central parts of the Troodos Mountains there is the Paphos forest with cypress cedar and Turkish pine (Pinus brutia) – species that had previously had a much greater distribution on the island. There is also a special subspecies of mufflon (Ovis orientalis ophion) and two endemic bird species, cypress sting (Oenanthe cypriaca) and cyprus singer. The Paphos forest with adjacent mountains is also known for a good strain of hawk eagles.
The Akama Peninsula at the far west has been set aside as a national park to guard a more unspoilt nature with cliffs, ravines, forests and sandy beaches. At two of the beaches – Limni and Lara-Toxeftra – females of neglected caretaker turtle and mushroom turtle are still digging their eggs every season. Several unique plants include a species in the orchid genus satyr keys (Serapia aphroditae). The Akama Peninsula has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cyprus’s second national park, the Carpathian Peninsula, lies on the foothills of the Kyrenia Mountains, which extend east in the direction of Turkey. Here you will find an attractive mix of rocky shores and sandy beaches where both the caretaker tortoise and the turtle lay their eggs. At the far end of the peninsula, red-billed swans nest with trout and cormorants, and here large numbers of migratory birds accumulate during the spring.
Among the few remaining wetlands and coastal lagoons are the Akrotiri Peninsula and Larnaca’s salt lakes, where nesting spore whip (Vanellus spinosus), stilt runner and thick foot (see thick feet) are found, and harbor thousands of flamingos during the winter. Cranes, maidens, evening hawks and bee eaters are common during the spring and autumn migration. At Cape Aspro west of the Gulf of Episkopi is Cyprus’s largest colony of eleonora falcons.
About 10% of Cyprus is under some form of nature protection (2012). The most important areas from a nature conservation point of view are the national forest parks, which are just over ten in number.